ep56imageEvery year we all want to back the winner of the Melbourne Cup and many dream of also being the winning owner. It’s well out of the reach for almost everyone, but a new venture known as the Cup Club is looking to change that. They were featured in the Financial Review this week Cup Club’s non-profit ownership: winners not winnings. So this week on the podcast we have Cup Club CEO Jason Cornell to explain more about an innovative approach to the thrill of racehorse ownership.

Punting Insights You’ll Find:

  • What is the Cup Club and who is involved in the management team?
  • How is it different to a syndication company?
  • What do you get with a monthly membership?
  • Which horses in the stable are in for a big Spring?

Today’s Guest: Jason Cornell – Cup Club

David Duffield: Thanks for joining us Jason. If you could just start by letting people know what is The Cup Club?

Jason Cornell: Yeah, thanks Dave it’s a membership club. It’s like being in the coterie group of your footy club. It’s a premium membership experience that we provide an ownership experience at the raceday and a number of exclusive events for members and our goal is to have a winner in the Melbourne Cup and have a lot of fun along the way. Obviously we’re buying staying type of horses so if they don’t make it to the Melbourne Cup there’s a lot of other staying races and prize money in Australia on offer.

David Duffield: So it’s really about the enjoyment of being a very, very small owner of the horse rather than striking it rich by winning a big race and enjoying all the prize money?

Jason Cornell: Yeah, it’s really an alternative as you and your listeners would know. The alternative is to buy, for example, a 5% share in a yearling that may or may not make it even to a country race meeting. A lot of our members are horse owners and have got shares in other horses but The Cup Club is that different type of experience. We’re very fortunate to be in some pretty exclusive syndicates with some top quality horses but the main thing about our club is definitely not about financial return. Anybody that even asks about a financial return I say, “Well this is not for you.” It’s all about the experience, it’s about the networking, it’s about creating some pretty premium racing events.

David Duffield: And what’s your background in racing and also the founder, John Wall?

Jason Cornell: Firstly, John set up The Cub Club over 12 months ago now. He had shares in a couple of horses firstly, Quest For Peace and Kelinni, through both OTI and Darren Dance last year. His aim for The Cup Club was exactly that. He was running it by himself. My background, I’ve spent 17 years in Hong Kong, very big on the punting side but was lucky enough to work with what I call the greatest monopoly in the world. I worked for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. I was in charge of sponsorship and marketing.

Came back to Australia and was looking for an opportunity in the thoroughbred world and even though some of our race clubs you’d think would need somebody from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, haven’t been able to do that. But I met John and I created a company called Owner For A Day, you might have heard. I did Owner For A Day with Fiorente, for the Australian Cup, for charity, for 4 Tracks 4 Kids. John Wall was pretty impressed with that as a marketing idea and he said he’d back Owner For A Day but in the meantime I had to run The Cup Club and I think some of our philosophies are very much the same.

We’re just trying to attract a lot more people and a much broader reach of people to what we think is the best marketing that racing’s got. That is that ownership experience at the race track. At the present time I don’t know – whose responsibility is that? Is it the racing jurisdictions? Is it the race clubs? Is it the syndicators? It’s a really complex marketing field out there. We’re trying to be very innovative in that field.

David Duffield: You mentioned Fiorente there and I believe you’re two for two, Jason. There was another bit of success you guys had over our winter.

Jason Cornell: Owner For A Day, we’ve done Fiorente and Sonntag. Sonntag came about through Shane Anderson who’s on RSN and once again we raised money for riding for the disabled but Fiorente is probably a good segue into some of the other horses that we’ve got. John, our founder, as I said had got us into horses like Quest For Peace and Kelinni. I had the great experience last year, I’m very good friends and my wife actually works for a gentleman by the name of Jack Bongiorno who was one of the major part owners of Fiorente. He’s had Descarado who won the Caulfield Cup, he’s now had Fiorente, who’s run second and won a Melbourne Cup.

Funnily enough he’s also part owner in The Offer who’s the current Melbourne Cup favorite. Via that connection we were able to get into some syndicates with Gai Waterhouse and two of our horses, Bonfire and Greatwood are part of those. Also I’m very good friends with Bruce Slade from Round Table Racing and we’re in with a very good four-year-old entire called Excess Knowledge who’s actually going to be having his first start in Australia next Saturday at Rosehill.

They were some of the connections that I brought too and I think we – two weeks ago we had a quinella at Rosehill where we had Greatwood and Bonfire so I’m pretty sure that we’re going to be looking to go in with Gai again as she looks to go and buy some of those proven horses in both the UK and France.

David Duffield: If people are interested in being part of the ‘club’ and that’s definitely, I suppose, the feeling, the vibe that you have amongst the guys, what do you get as part of your membership? I believe it’s either monthly or annual that you can pay for that membership?

Jason Cornell: Yeah, the monthly membership is really just an entry point in regards to the cost. It’s $199 a month, 200 bucks a month. For that you’re a member and you get all the updates and everything as if you’re an owner of the horse. Get invited to all of the race days, get invited to all of the exclusive events that we have and all of the opportunities that the club provides. What we really try and sell is our annual membership which is $2330. But inclusive of that, that gets you a ticket to The Cup Club marquee, which is a marquee on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington and the retail value of that is $900.

We think that that’s outstanding value to pay your annual membership fee, get all the benefits of race horse ownership and then you can focus on having a day at the races on Melbourne Cup Day with a lot of like-minded members and that’s what we find a lot of members do. They might buy it as even with a couple of mates or they might be a partner, a husband and wife for example and especially those probably … More than 50% of our membership reside outside of Melbourne.

For them, they’re able to come down to Melbourne. We have another great event on the day before the Melbourne Cup, we’ve got The Cup Club lunch. They might be able to build in a couple of events and have a- rather than just be a general nobody out in the public, they feel as if they’re really inside the ropes there at Flemington.

David Duffield: Definitely. So the annual membership gets you The Cup Club marquee. For the monthly membership, that means that if they decide for whatever reason it’s not for them, they can cancel it anytime?

Jason Cornell: Yeah, they can cancel it anytime. Also, as I said, they’re invited to all of our events. I’ll give you a good example of that. This Saturday at Caulfield we’ve got an exclusive area out the back near the pre-parade ring called The Cup Club Bar. All of our monthly members can come along to that. You can always invite a guest. Most of the events that I do I say, “If you refer a member, you can jump in for free.” It’s very warm and friendly.

A lot of, I suppose, the feedback that I get from people is that the race course is not really a very friendly place even if you do have an owner’s ticket. You get put in the owner’s bar after your horse has lost and then they kick you out before the next guys come in. People are looking for a great social event when they go to the race day.

David Duffield: Definitely. All right, I appreciate your time and it’s a really interesting concept. Good luck with that and especially for all the horses running this spring.

Jason Cornell: Yeah, as I said we’ve got one of our horses, Bonfire, runs in the Naturalism this Saturday. Any of your listeners out there, if they want to follow Bonfire. We think he’s got a great chance in the Naturalism. And if anyone wants to come to The Cup Club Bar, just check us out at cupclub.com.au and also follow us on Twitter @CupClub for all the race day updates.

David Duffield: Perfect. All right, appreciate your time, thanks Jason.

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